Viago, Deacon and Vladislav are vampires who are finding that modern life has them struggling with the mundane - like paying rent, keeping up with the chore wheel, trying to get into nightclubs and overcoming flatmate conflicts.
Set on the east coast of New Zealand in 1984, Boy, an 11-year-old child and devout Michael Jackson fan, gets a chance to know his absentee criminal father, who has returned to find a bag of money he buried years ago.
Te Aho Eketone-Whitu,
After a space merchant vessel perceives an unknown transmission as a distress call, its landing on the source moon finds one of the crew attacked by a mysterious lifeform, and they soon realize that its life cycle has merely begun.
Follow the lives of Viago (Taika Waititi), Deacon (Jonathan Brugh), and Vladislav (Jemaine Clement) - three flatmates who are just trying to get by and overcome life's obstacles-like being immortal vampires who must feast on human blood. Hundreds of years old, the vampires are finding that beyond sunlight catastrophes, hitting the main artery, and not being able to get a sense of their wardrobe without a reflection-modern society has them struggling with the mundane like paying rent, keeping up with the chore wheel, trying to get into nightclubs, and overcoming flatmate conflicts.Written by
Taika Waititi and Jemaine Clement seem to understand misfits. Waititi explored them in his first two films, Eagle vs Shark and Boy, and Clement's partnership with Bret McKenzie as Flight of the Conchords was an object lesson in not fitting in. Their early works were loved both here and abroad. Between them, Waititi and Clement have been nominated at the Grammys, the Emmys and the Oscars, hardly a pedigree to be sniffed at. I guess the domestic appeal of this is born of New Zealand being a strange little country down the bottom of the world, whose national bird doesn't fly, who dared stand up to the Americans and say "No Nukes", and which has been the backdrop for some of the hugest blockbusters of recent years. We're proud of our strangeness. The international appeal is perhaps due in part to the same thing, our unique individuality. I guess, coming from a pair of inveterate misfits, What We Do in the Shadows, an exploration of vampires who live among humans, but are intrinsically not living humans themselves, is a natural growth of themes already explored. As this film explores vampire tropes with fresh eyes, it gives, as well, a poignant look at the value of exploring past beliefs, hurts, losses and prejudices anew and seeing what can grow. As each of us age, it becomes easier to get stuck in our ways, how much more so for vampires whose age is counted not in decades but centuries. For Viago, Vladislav, Deacon, and Petyr there are many challenges. Viago faces the classic immortal's dilemma; his beloved growing old without him. Vladislav has a beast from the past which could rear its head again. Deacon faces the challenge of meeting a new generation and realising his own youth is slipping away. Petyr is growing ever more ancient, and is working to create a legacy. From these challenges come a fresh look at relationships between old enemies, at the cost of indiscretion, at unfulfilled promises and at the need to sometimes sacrifice your own desires out of genuine affection for another. This is a quirky film, slightly disjointed in places. But it delights in its lo-fi quirk right from the very 1970's looking "New Zealand Documentary Board" credit at the beginning. There's plenty of laughs to be had. It won't be everyone's cup of tea, it might be hard for some to follow, but there's entertainment to be found here for all. And now to the reviewer's bias. My grandmother, with whom I attended the Wellington première. Ethel Robinson assured me leading up to the movie that hers would be a very small part. It was, but it was a very necessary component part. And she filled it admirably, as did each of the performers in this piece. From the puzzled police, the frustrated familiar, the affable alpha-wolf, all the way to the venerable vampires themselves, no-one seemed out of place in this gentle comedy. Though it is about the undead, you can feel the warm heart beating below the surface of What we do in the Shadows, a film which will leave you thinking about vampires, and maybe about the world too, in a new way.
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